The Grazing Ban in China's Northwest

Assessing Grassland Policies for Sustainability and Herders' Livelihood

Travel Scholarships available

MEARC is happy to announce the availability of two Student Scholarships for 2011-2012 and one Staff Fellowship funded out of the Ford Project. These Scholarships and Fellowship will be made available to cover international travel. Applicants may apply freely throughout the year.
Applicants should use the fund to support work that is related to research on socio-economic and sustainable development of China's ethnic minority and poverty areas.
Although the funding can only be used to support travel fees (an economy-class return ticket) and does not include housing fees, MEARC's representative office in Beijing may be of assistance in finding affordable accommodation, such as for instance student dormitories.

If you are interested we recommend you contact Professor Peter Ho at before submitting an application.

Applications should be in PDF format and should include:
  • a proposal of max. 1500 words
  • a resumé
  • a list of grades
  • the contact information of two references


Problems of rangeland degradation, over-grazing and desertification have been issues of serious concern for the Chinese government since the start of the economic reforms in 1978. Dealing with these problems is regarded as essential to solving rural poverty in the long term. For this reason, the Chinese government proclaimed a national grazing ban in 2006. Compliance to the grazing ban is enforced through a strict regime of fines, the confiscation of livestock, and forfeiting government subsidies. In addition, special patrol teams for the inspection of illegal-grazing have been established.

Over the years, the Chinese state has attempted to halt the decline of rangeland resources through technical measures (such as aerial sowing, the construction of manmade ranges, and the use of carrying capacities); developmentalist policies (settling of nomads, transmigration and reclamation projects); and regulatory measures, of which the recent grazing ban is a case in point.

Rangeland is an important resource and covers over 40 percent (or 400 million ha) of the total surface of China. The people dependent on grassland include (semi) nomadic Mongols, Tibetans and Kazakhs, as well as sedentary livestock farmers like Hui Muslims. Over 50 per cent of China's grasslands is located in the north. These grasslands are strategically important, being located in the frontier zones and inhabited by ethnic minorities.


The project has 3 main objectives:
  1. to understand the Grazing Ban's political rationale and its socio-economic and institutional effects on resource-poor herders' communities;
  2. to enhance a better understanding of community and common property management at under-developed institutions of higher education in Northwest China;
  3. to enable the internationalization of expertise of young staff and students at under-developed institutions of higher education in Northwest China.

Against this backdrop, the project:
  • engages in qualitative and quantitative research in selected locations in Northwest China;
  • organizes workshops and seminars;
  • invites Chinese guest researchers for study and scholarly exchange at MEARC;
  • and provides policy recommendations to relevant decision-makers at the National People's Congress and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.

Funding and timeframe

The project is funded by the Ford Foundation from 2011 until the end of 2013


Peter Ho professor of Chinese Economy and Development, LIAS, Leiden University; Director of MEARC